The Pickens Dragons just couldn’t slow down the Gilmer Bobcats enough on Friday night, as the visiting Cats came into a packed Dragons Stadium and defeated the home team by the final score of 21-13.The game opened with the Dragons kicking off after winning the opening coin toss, which resulted in Gilmer taking possession at their own 16 yard line.
The Bobcats had no problem moving down the field on the opening drive, as they gained 84 yards on just four plays, the final one being a 59 yard touchdown pass from Marlen Hensley to Connor Webber to give Gilmer a 7-0 advantage with 10:07 remaining in the first quarter.
Not to be outdone by their guests, the Pickens’ offense hit the field and took only one play to hit pay-dirt, as Shannon Brooks took a handoff and bulldozed his way for a 65 yard touchdown to make the score 7-6 (The Dragons extra point attempt was no good).
The next Gilmer possession saw the Dragons’ defense find a grove and slow down the Bobcats’ offense after eight plays, the final play being a 2 yard run that fell short of the first down marker and gave the Dragons possession on their own 31 yard line.
This drive never got going for the Dragons, and after three short plays and 0 yards the punt team hit the field with the goal of pinning the Bobcats deep in their own territory. Tanner Brumby did just that with his punt, which stopped rolling on the Gilmer 12 yard line.
Unfortunately for Pickens, the defense gave up a 88 yard touchdown run by Drew Morgan on the first play of the Gilmer drive, pushing the Gilmer lead to 14-6 with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
After both teams traded two quick three-and-outs, the Dragons took over on the Gilmer 45 and quickly advanced the ball 37 yards on five plays; however, a fourth down play saw Pickens fail to convert, giving Gilmer the ball on its own 6 yard line.
The action picked up following one Pickens drive and two more Gilmer drives, as the Dragons took over on their own 37 yard line and put together a ten play, 63 yard drive that ended on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Tanner Brumby to Shannon Brooks, closing the Dragons’ gap to 14-13 with just thirty-eight seconds left in the first half.
The Dragons’ kickoff following the touchdown was then fumbled by the Bobcats and recovered by Ty Prather on the Gilmer 29 yard line, setting up Pickens with an excellent chance to take the lead before halftime. However, the passing game just could not get on the same page on this drive, leading to a disappointing four-play, 0 yard drive that ended on an incomplete pass.
Gilmer then chose to take a knee and run out the clock, leaving the halftime score at 14-13.
Following the halftime performances of both bands, the Dragons returned to the field with the ball and a chance to gain some momentum. This drive showed plenty of promise thanks to two quick first downs, but once again it stalled out, forcing another Pickens punt.
The Bobcats then took advantage of re-gaining possession, as they scored on a 60 yard touchdown pass from Hensley to Austin Cole on the fourth play of the drive to extend the Gilmer lead to 21-13.
The remaining time in the game saw struggles on offense for both sides of the ball, as Gilmer and Pickens combined for four punts and two turnovers on downs.
The game looked out of reach for the Dragons when Gilmer ate up a large amount of clock on a eight play, 46 yard drive that saw the Dragons use all of their timeouts in an effort to get one more possession. However, a missed 20 yard field goal by Manny Lopez that may have been partially blocked breathed fire into the Dragons once again, leaving the team with 27 seconds to put the ball in the end zone one more time.
Now in do-or-die mode, the Pickens offense had plenty of plays up their sleeves, including a hook-and-ladder play that saw Shannon Brooks end up with the ball on a gain of twenty-five yards, but it just wasn’t enough to get the ball rolling. An incomplete pass intended for Brooks hit the ground simultaneous to the final buzzer sounding, officially ending the game with Gilmer winning 21-13.
The Dragons ended the game with 266 total yards of offense—124 yards coming through the air and 142 yards coming from the ground attack.
Tanner Brumby led the way in passing for Pickens with 13 completions for 97 yards and one touchdown. He also had 16 carries for 56 yards.
Shannon Brooks had a nice game running the ball, finishing with 13 carries for 92 yards and one touchdown. Brooks also recorded 3 receptions for 16 yards and a touchdown.
Eric Justice had an impressive night in his first game back since hurting his knee in the Dragons’ season opener against Sonoraville, reeling in 3 receptions for a team-high 41 yards.
The loss to the Bobcats puts Pickens at 4-3 on the season with a disappointing 0-3 record at home. The loss also drops Pickens from first to second in the 7-AAAA Division A subregion, now ½ a game behind the Bobcats.
Next up on the schedule for the Dragons is the Homecoming game against the Johnson Gainesville Knights. The Knights are 5-3 on the season and will be coming off a 42-15 victory over Druid Hills.